Manic Power: Robert Lowell and His Circle

Jeffrey Meyers, Author Arbor House Publishing $17.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-87795-920-5
The four men whose intertwined lives are examined here for possible connection between madness and genius are considered among the greatest American poets of this century. The leader, perhaps because of his patrician origins as much as his excellence as a poet, is Lowell; those who looked to him are Randall Jarrell, John Berryman and Theodore Roethke. The four shared and expressed the view that madness is a personal source of poetic creativity as well as a reflection of contemporary society. Mental breakdown, extensive therapy, alcoholism, failed marriages and suicide were part of their sharing. As Meyers underscores, ""The poets competed with each other in madness as an art, and flaunted their illness as a leper shows sores.'' An epilogue is devoted to the self-destructive poet Sylvia Plath, who Meyers, a professor at the University of Colorado, believes was influenced by these poets in the expression of her mental anguish. (October 31)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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